#The Unmissables

The Unmissables: Three Artists To See Online In April

The best art on show online this April from artists and galleries in Aotearoa.

A monthly round-up of artworks around Aotearoa that we keep returning to.

To brighten up yet another day in isolation, our Unmissbles this month brings you loud and banging jewellery, fruity portraits, and a dreamy depiction of an artist’s time in Greece.

Instead of sticking solely to dealer galleries this month, our team of art critics, Lana Lopesi, Francis McWhannell and Faith Wilson, have trawled the internet to showcase some of Aotearoa’s best and exciting new artists.

At the start of 2020 I could never have imagined that just as galleries were ramping up, they would be shut for an entire month. An entire month where I would be unable to see art in real life! In this time though we’ve seen everyone from our national museum to the smallest galleries find new ways of connecting art and its audiences. With art gallery experience turned on its head, so too is the art buying experience. So this month, I thought I would pop the dealer gallery bubble and highlight two artists on Instagram whose work you should know about.

Turumeke Harrington (@turumeke) in a fortnight has made an isolation art series of surprisingly satisfying banana paintings. With names like Monkeys don’t eat bananas and only good for a loaf the works provide a light-hearted distraction from lockdown (for artist and audience alike). I asked Turumeke how making in isolation has been going? Her response was “Up until now I have been working to pull a bunch of shows together for 2020, but ah, 2020 has been postponed…I never get this much time to prioritise art making, or procrastinate making art (painting bananas...), I'm very lucky and it's very cool.”

Jess Thompson (@maori_mermaid) is an illustrator whose recognisable style poignantly depicts wāhine Māori experience. In lockdown, Jess tells me she is “Currently working on images inspired by Papatūānuku and Hine-nui-te-pō. I think with the current state of Rāhui, looking to our Atua and philosophising over their stories is incredibly reassuring. It keeps me grounded, and I feel more connected to the world despite being closed away from it.”

Both artists are selling works, and are just a direct message away. I for one can’t wait see to both their work irl, whenever that might be. – LL

I feel poorly placed to write for this edition of The Unmissables. The Covid-19 lockdown has caused me to shy away from most digital content, the inadequacies of which have become painfully apparent now that such content is not complementary to more immediately physical activities. I normally consume a great deal of art-related online media, but I have little desire to do so when I cannot see works and exhibitions in person. Instead, I tend towards books, lectures, podcasts: things that feel more natively separate to the experiences I dearly miss.

That said, some local dealers are doing their darndest to keep aficionados engaged via digital channels. Tim Melville is doing a particularly fine job. His occasional emails are effortlessly uplifting. The most recent one showcased a host of artworks he and his colleague Maddie Gifford live with, pictured in situ. Shortly after the lockdown was put into effect, Melville also presented an online show of diverse paper-based works—their graphic punch going some way towards compensating for the present impossibility of in-person viewing.

Among the most alluring pieces are two small watercolours by a perennial favourite of mine, Areez Katki, best known for his textile-based works. One, titled Neapoli (2019), shows rooves and a courtyard. It was made during the artist’s sojourn to Greece last year (Neapoli is a neighbourhood in Athens where the artist stayed). It is difficult to know to what extent the picture is true to what was there before Katki’s eyes, and to what extent it was invented, so dense is the image with colour and pattern. Perhaps the work is as much a record of the energy of new experiences in new places as it is a recording of a view. – FM

Thanks to this lockdown I’ve spent about 200 hours more, per day, on Instagram than what is considered acceptable, which is probably bad for my brain, but also means I’m being exposed to some sick artists and makers, on top of everyone’s photos of their subpar sourdough attempts. One of these artists is Rani Stigsdottir, otherwise known as Banshee the Valkyrie (@bansheethevalkyrie), a Pōneke-based jewellery maker who I first met years ago when I was an intern at The Dowse Art Museum, where Rani was the cool chick who worked out the front and made jewellery. Her range includes necklaces, earrings and rings (all of which are for sale) many with otherworldly and esoteric vibes, and all playful and fun.

Her signature Big Boss Bitch art deco earrings are large, brassy, geometric shapes that almost reach the shoulder when worn. They have cool names like XBOX Earrings and Dalliance Danglers, are loud af and are the perfect earring for attention-seekers like myself. Rani’s latest addition to her growing repertoire are a quieter offering – but are still, of course, witchy and weird: opal and sterling Hefrings, small rings with a mesmerising opal set in the centre. In Rani’s words: “If I was a cyborg I'd have opal eyes that opalized the world”. Same here. – FW

Feature image, top of page:
Rani Stigsdottir, Icepick Earrings, 2020.
Image courtesy of artist.

The Unmissables is presented in a partnership with the New Zealand Contemporary Art Trust, which covers the cost of paying our writers. We retain all editorial control.

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The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

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